Saturday, December 19, 2009

even I have an opinion about health care

After an interesting conversation or two with a acquaintance from Washington state I'm starting to really realise how entrenched the whole health care debate has become "down there". Yeah, I know I'm kinda slow here but it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff with all the blowing and sucking that's going on in the media.

So, here's my sop to the right wing: actually the much vaunted/derided "socialist" health care system in Canada isn't free at all. Yes folks, we do pay for our care here. I mean I have to pay an insurance premium for my Medical Services Plan. Last I looked it was $36 a month but it's the principal dammit. Maybe that will put a smile on a republican face or two.

And wait times? It's all relative. When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer seven years ago I got to see a specialist immediately. Surgery was the choice and it was done within a week. Fortunately for me it was found early and I'm still around to annoy people.

On the other hand, I now have a condition called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as the result of a car accident two years ago and the diagnosis and treatment are proceeding at a far more leisurely pace. The condition is annoying and occasional debilitating but it's not disabling and I'm OK with the speed things are going at. I also know that if it gets a lot worse a lot quicker we will pick up the pace and change the priorities.

It's nice to know that if my WA colleague has an ingrowing toenail he gets to see a podiatrist the next day. However the notion that he'll spend the next few years paying for it creates a pain in a far more fundamental location.

So that's my two cents, looking at the hash Congress is making - particularly those therein who fancy themselves kingmakers, I don't see it getting any better for my neighbours with any great speed but I sure do hope an outbreak of common sense happens soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

OK, so maybe I'll keep using wtf? for a bit yet

What can one say? My heart goes out to Taylor Swift. I've already read people claiming that it was "staged" but it looked pretty much like random stupid to me.

guess summer happened after all

I sometimes envy those with the energy (and imagination) to maintain a blog on an almost daily basis. Myself, I have tended to want to "say something" with my entries. I guess the six week blank since my last effort says a lot about that idea. Ah well, perhaps my eloquence will assert itself in other ways. We'll see...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On the Death of Democracy

So, have you voted for anything that was good for you lately? I remember being told once that, even if there was nothing you wanted to vote for there would always be something you wanted to vote against. These days it seems that the thing most voted against is intelligence and the elusive and misleadingly named thing called common sense.

I’m not going to rail against the quality of education systems, either within North America or worldwide. There are those far better qualified then me to deconstruct the myths of education and academic achievement that we have been spoon-fed for so long. What I do hold dear is the quaint notion that people really are entitled to good government, assuming that is that they can recognise and endorse it. That last has been sorely lacking and not just in recent times. It really does seem that the idea of an educated electorate debating the issues and voting for real solutions has vanished into the mist.

I recall a piece of graffiti sprayed on a railway bridge in London that said “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, you still end up with a government”. That cynicism encompasses the world we live in doesn’t it. But, should it? Are we so far divorced from the possibility of good government that we despair of ever seeing it again?

Politicians rank right down there with used-car salesmen and insurance adjustors when it comes to trust and perceived honesty. It’s not that fact that rankles; it’s the appearance that nobody, least of all the politicians themselves, seems to care about changing that fact. What’s wrong with this picture?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On the Death of Capitalism

It's OK; your money's still good here. Just take a minute to think of some of the other things you could be doing with it.

A simplistic view of the idea of capitalism is that money gravitates to those who produce the best products. An educated consumer class drives the quality spiral ever upwards and those who produce the best reap the rewards. Now that idea creates dependencies. It puts forward the proposition that the buyer will establish which products are the best and support them. That the consumer will continue to support the efforts of inventive and creative entrepreneurs who anticipate and fill the consumers needs.

So what's wrong with this picture? How does the public become acquainted with the new, the inventive and the excellent? Look at most, if not all advertisements in newspapers and other circulations from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What do they tell you? Do they describe their goods in earnest, sober tones, with testimonials from decent citizens and the like? Certainly many do. Others are written like mini polemics but at least retain a shred of dignity.

Contrast that with today’s advertising methods. The old expression about “the sizzle, not the steak” palls when compared with the reality of advertising that goes out of its way to avoid mentioning anything about the qualities of the goods they are promoting. Let’s promote a lifestyle, a style, a bastardised ideal. Anything rather then talk about the crazy notion that whatever is being sold might be of any real use to anyone or have any intrinsic quality beyond its invented social status.

The second idea was the educated consumer, ever looking for the best things his or her money can buy and equipped with the sensibility to identify it and the desire to promote it to others. I guess that phenomenon disappeared with most other ideas about an ever improving standard of education being the right of the people.

“The public gets what the public wants but I don’t get what this society wants” to quote a songwriter from the 80’s. We have not so much created a monster as by our inaction allowed a monster to come into existence. Maybe it’s too late to change this but, for the sake of my children’s children, I hope not.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

as the world turns

I had a little crisis today, thinking about this blog. Is it just a vanity project? I tend to update infrequently and don't have much to say. I guess I could try it as an online diary but that would be just too boring. And it's not as if I have a raft of deep thoughts to share with the world either.

I guess I'll just muddle along with it for now and see where it leads me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

flaming june

At last the temperature rises a fraction above 20C. It has been the longest, dullest winter. Now I can finally put all my various plans for improving my life into action - right . . .

Of course that all depends on several, shall we say, "variables"? Will I be able to break the back of the yard before it breaks mine? Will I finally clear enough random junk out of my garage to be able to park my car out of the warm sun? (I am seriously considering buying a much smaller car just to move this idea within the realms of possibility)

Who knows? Well, if last summer is anything to go by the plans will be made, redrawn, seriously considered and then shelved due to an overwhelming need to just get out there and enjoy the brief weeks of summer. So there.

But the idea that stuff might get done is enticing, I must admit...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

life at the bottom of the food chain

Hell's help desk, how may I assist you? We're not satisfied until you're not satisfied.

Yep, it's been that kind of week.

And I'm actually not complaining. After all, without all those wonderful people asking for my help where would I be? (/snark)

Monday, May 25, 2009

let's try this again

Memorial Day in the US, just another work day up here. Somehow last weekend's Victoria Day doesn't seem quite so - imposing - as the neighbour's stated aim of remembering those who died in military service. Whilst I respect the services I don't particularly believe in the glorification of the dead. After all there's nothing very glorious about being dead. As far as I can work out it's cold, dark and lasts forever. Not too much glory there. So I guess the glory pertains to the survivors. They glorifiy the sacrifice of those who "gave their lives" so that they could retain their way of life, their fast food and their double-wides.

Or is it really more than that? Given the choice I would gladly glorify a way of life that makes death through anything but natural causes as close to impossible as it can as a far, far better thing. Let us remember the fallen indeed and resolve to do what it takes as a species to ensure their number ceases to grow.